Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Search suspended for missing pilot, plane near Yakutat

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Eagle River pilot remains missing as the official search for a plane last located in Southeast Alaska has been suspended.

47-year-old Alan Foster was flying a Piper PA-32 en route from Yakutat to Merrill Field on September 9, when the plane dropped off radar about 42 miles northwest of Yakutat, near the Malaspina Glacier. Yakutat is about 225 miles northwest of Juneau and 220 miles southeast of Cordova.

On Monday, the Commander of 11th Air Force, under recommendation by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, suspended search efforts.

“Few leads and poor weather in the early days of searching hampered efforts, but eventually the entire search area was saturated with aircraft in an attempt to find the missing pilot,” said SMSgt Robert Carte, a senior controller with the 11th Air Force RCC.

According to the RCC, there were 197 searchers in 57 aircrafts that flew 84 sorties and accumulated 279.1 flight hours while searching for Foster.

The plane did not have a 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter, which would have alerted authorities by satellite upon crashing.

Search parties included members from the United States Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Air National Guard, the Alaska Civil Air Patrol, which included CAP squadrons from Birchwood, Fairbanks, Eielson, Merrill Field, Kenai, Valdez, and Juneau.

“The AKRCC has researched and resolved all possible leads and exhaustive search efforts in the area have proven unsuccessful,” said SMSgt Carte.

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